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Make the Most of Your Mornings: Create a Morning Plan of Action (Day 12)

We’ve talked about the importance of having a plan for the day, exercising, eating something nutritious, and getting dressed. Now it’s time to put all of those things together and make our morning plan of action.

How to Make a Morning Plan of Action

1) Make a List of Things You’d Like to Get Done During the First Two Hours of the Morning

If you’re anything like me, you’ll come up with a bunch of ideas of things you’d love to do each morning. You’re just brainstorming right now, so your list can be as long as you’d like. In fact, I’d recommend that you take a half a day to mull over what you want to put on your list and to keep adding things as they come to mind.

2) Look at Your List and Pare It Down to the Top 8-10 Things You’d Really, Really Like to Do

Once you have a nice long list made, sit down and really evaluate the items on there in light of what is going to make the biggest difference in your day and what are the most important things you need or want to accomplish each morning. You can organize the list in order of priority if that helps you to categorize things more clearly.

3) Pare Your Top 10 List Down to the 3-5 Most Important Things You Must Do Each Morning

After you’ve cut your list down to the top 8-10 things you really hope to do each morning, cull it down even farther to the 3-5 most important things. {If you couldn’t come up with a long list, well, you’re going to make it a lot easier on yourself! And I wish I could be more like you and not have such high hopes and unrealistic ambitions! :)}

Since we’ve already been working on implementing some things like getting dressed, it’s probably not going to be as hard to figure out your list and what works for you. See? You already have a head start on this!

4) Write These 3-5 Things Down and Put Them in a Conspicuous Location

Write your list of 3-5 Morning Must-Do’s down (or make a fancy document on the computer if you’re all tech-y like that!) and then put this list in a very conspicuous location. You could even put it multiple locations — on your refrigerator, in your laundry room, on your bathroom mirror.

Do whatever it takes to be constantly reminded each morning to stay on task. It takes awhile for something to become a habit, so the more reminders, the better!

5) Make a Commitment to Follow Them in the Same Order Each Morning for Three Weeks

Commit to following through with your Morning Must-Do’s every single morning for the next three weeks. You might not always hit them all each morning and, unless you live in a cave and don’t have any electronics nor interact with other human beings, I’m positive you’re going to have some interruptions. Don’t let these things throw you off track. Do the best you can do, stick with it, and keep plodding along.

At the end of three weeks, stop and re-evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Tweak your list or your morning plan, if need be (maybe wait to have your coffee until your morning list is done?!), and then keep the Morning Must-Do’s practice up.

If you currently don’t have a good routine going for your mornings, I can almost guarantee that you’re going to see some significant positive changes as a result of working on developing this habit!

My Day 10 Project Update

Bedtime: I made it to bed by 9:30 last night — managed to hit my bedtime again — yay!

My Top 5 Evening Must Do’s: Done!

Wake Up Time: 5:30 a.m.

Showered & Dressed by 9 a.m.: YES!!

Day 11 Project

1. Did you determine your bedtime and 5 Evening Must-Do’s? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did on them last night.

2. Did you determine what time you’re going to commit to waking up every morning for the next three weeks? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did this morning!

3. Did you get in some exercise yesterday and eat a nutritious breakfast? If not, make a commitment today to a specific way you’re going to incorporate exercise and a nutritious breakfast into your day.

4. Follow the steps outlined above to create your morning plan of action (if you don’t already have a good morning routine in place). Leave a comment telling us the 3-5 Morning Must-Do’s you came up with (or tell us about the wonderful morning routine you already have going). I’ll share mine tomorrow!

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  • Evie says:

    oh Crystal.. why did you have to start this series when we are just getting back from an international trip and fighting off jet lag and lack of sleep due to sick kids?? I am motivated, but following slowly behind you. Thanks for the motivation though. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Hey, just remember that any progress — even microscopic — is still progress. And give yourself some grace; it sounds like you have a LOT on your plate right not!

  • Shelly says:

    I got to bed just a little late last night about 10 minutes late. I did get my 5 things done before bed. I was able to get up on time this morning. I ate a good breakfast but I didn’t get any exercise in today. I just did a lot of planning for homeschooling and menu planning today. I will do better tomorrow, I am positive.

    My 5 items to do each morning
    1. Get dressed right away after I am up
    2. Get breakfast for husband and the kids and eat
    3. Unload dishwasher if needed/ clean kitchen
    4. Check e-mail and take care of any answers (no more than 30 minutes spent on this task)
    5. Get my 10 minutes of exercise done!

  • kate says:

    Your posts have been so encouraging. I’m adjusting from a 11:30/midnight bedtime (due to the Olympics) to a 9:30/10 p.m. bedtime. Hard to do but these posts give me motivation. Thanks.

    The 3 to 5 things I would love to do in the morning are read 1 Psalm, enjoy my coffee without anyone asking me to get them food (my kids are the same age and gender as yours) and work on a few posts so that I’m able to get my first grader off to school in peace without one eye looking at my computer.

  • Excellent post. So many of my days end with relatively little accomplished, because I didn’t start out well in the morning. It’s so easy to hit snooze or skip breakfast when no morning habits are in place, but those practices don’t contribute to a successful day. I’d like to wake up early, read news, and eat breakfast before leaving for work.

  • Yay for getting dressed!

    My four things are: exercising, reading my Bible, getting dressed, making breakfast. I’d like to add responding to email or writing, but I’m not getting up early enough to do that yet!

  • Tabitha says:

    I needed this post! I’ve realized lately that I’m trying to do way to much in the morning before my son wakes up! So I’m going to pairing it down a bit so I actually get in the shower before he gets up.
    Heres my routine: Read Bible, check emails/office chores, exercise, prepare breakfast, get ready for the day. 🙂

  • Amanda P. says:

    Top 5 goals for the first 2 hrs of the morning:
    1. Exercise for at least a half hour.
    2. Shower and dress in something that makes me feel great.
    3. Read Bible and study.
    4. Drink a nice, hot cup of coffee.
    5. Uninterrupted work time.

  • Bedtime: 10:50 pm (goal was 10:30)

    Wake-Up: 6:00 am! Showered & dressed by 10am.

    Breakfast: Granola Bar (My goal was oatmeal, so I guess that sort of counts? ha!)

    Exercise: 1 mile powerwalk

    I’m struggling with the 5 Evening must do’s. Maybe if I put my list on the fridge it would serve as a better reminder. So I’ll try that tonight!

  • Although I haven’t made it to my target bedtime/wake up time this week, I’ve been within a 1/2 hour, so I’m okay with that for now. Starting today I am going to have strict discipline so I can make them on time, though!

    I HAVE been accomplishing my 5 must-do night activities and that alone has made a big difference! As for the morning must-dos mine are

    1. Exercise 20 minutes
    2. Shower/dressed
    3. Bible/prayer time
    4. Check email/computer
    5. Read/homework for class (I’m taking 4 college classes in September en route to getting my bachelor’s degree.)

    Most days I probably won’t get #5 done in the mornings, but I’m putting it on my list for those exceptional days where everything is on point and I have the extra time. 🙂

  • Megan says:

    I’ve been working on my morning routine for a while now and I’m thankful for the extra motivation from this series! My main problem has been that sometimes my 2 yr old wakes up at 6 and sometimes, like today, it’s after 7. Sometimes things would go really well and other times very badly. He doesn’t really get the play by yourself because mommy needs some time to wake up thing just yet 🙂 Last week I had an “aha” moment! I need to adjust my routine so I do the things that are most important first as well as the things that are more difficult to do with him awake. So I start with reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. If he’s still not awake, I do some sort of exercise but it’s a work in progress. Then I plan my day. By then he’s almost always awake. But today he’s not! So I have some extra time to work on chores like putting dishes away without “help” and I get some time on the computer without someone asking to watch trains on youtube! It’s been REALLY helpful to me. I was either waking up when he did, then nothing got done, or (maybe worse) waking up but spending all of that time on email or facebook instead of what I knew was really important to me. My husband is also very gracious and we take turns taking showers in the morning after the little one wakes up and before he goes to work so I don’t have to fit EVERYTHING in first thing.

  • jess says:

    Bedtime: Was in bed last night by 9:30—-the goal is 10:00 but I hadn’t made it on time for several days so very pleased about this one.

    Evening To-Do’s: Only got three done last night. Backpacks ready, lunches packed, kitchen cleaned. Didn’t get clothes out or to-do list written.

    Wake-Up: Got up at 6:00

    Breakfast: Glass of water and cup of yogurt

    Morning To-Do’s: Having a really hard time coming up with this list. I get up at 6:00, kids are up at 6:30 we have to leave by 7:10 to go to the bus (we live on a big farm so I have to drive them to the end of the lane, then sit there to wait on the bus since they are only 6 & 7), get back by 7:30. There is a lot to get done in a very short amount of time!

    Hmmm? 1)Get dressed. 2)Make all the beds – this just makes me feel like i’m off to a good start 3) Get kids off to school 4) Eat breakfast – never used to eat anything in the mornig so I really need to keep this on the list 5) Bible Reading 6)Clean-up kitchen/unload dishwasher

    Also decided to turn the computer off every night and NOT get back on it until AFTER the morning To-Do list is complete. Wish me luck!

    • Crystal says:

      It sounds like you’re making some great progress in the right direction!

      • Farmers Wife says:

        This has been such a great challange. I have seen so much change since i have started. less stress and school started this week and so far we have not needed to rush to the bus. My two year old has even been getting her self dressed before coming out in the morning:)We are still having a little trouble on the bedtime but I still wake up at 6 and when I feel like rolling back over I remind myself of all the peace I have before the kids get up. My goal is to get my seventeen year old breakfast each morning before he leaves for school and then make my husband and girls breakfast before they wake up and their lunches packed, laod of laundry started and my devotional read. I also babysit a one year old and two 5year old twin boys so if I get these Items done I can vocus more time on them durring the day. So thank you crystal for these inspiring posts.

    • beingjennifer says:

      I love your idea of not getting on your computer until your morning “to-do” list is finished! I think I’m going to use that for myself! Thanks!

  • Beth says:

    I LOVE this challenge! I look forward to it daily and it’s so motivating!
    Bedtime: 9-10pm In bed by 9:55
    Night Must-dos: getting good at this and boy does it help!
    Breakfast and exercise: NOPE I’m trying but I hate both
    Morning Must-dos: Exercise, Shower/dressed BEFORE the kids wake up, Brush the girls hair before school!!!!!!, Eat something before leaving the house…no junk!, have the front foyer cleaned…no shoes, bags, toys, before leaving

  • Meredith M. says:

    I love when you do challenges! Today I didn’t hit the snooze button!! My kids and I have to leave the house by 7, so I like to get up, shower, get dressed, have my breakfast and coffee, all before I wake the kids. It makes the morning go so much more smoothly. By having the lunches and backpacks ready the night before, I feel even better in the morning. Thanks for this challenge.

    Any chance we’ll do a fall cleaning challenge??? 😉

  • Sherry Lochner says:

    Bedtime: I got in bed later as we had a raccoon in our garage. We originally thought it was a cat stuck, but then after moving a few things around. We found out what it was. All that being said, it was about 10:20 before I got into bed.

    My Top 5 Evening Must Do’s: Done!

    Wake Up Time: 6 AM

    Exercise – I walked/jogging sprints for 2 miles

    This is my morning routine now: coffee, Bible reading/prayer, check email, make breakfast, get dressed, take dishes out, start schooling

    Here is my new routine: get dressed/shower, coffee, Bible reading/prayer, take dishes out, make breakfast, start schooling

  • Emily says:

    My brother is the captain of a university’s track and CC team here in Texas, and he’s been helping me tremendously on the working out portion of this. I have now officially been able to run 1.5 miles WITHOUT stopping for two days in a row, and I couldn’t be happier!! Thank you, Crystal, for helping me set realistic goals!

    My sweet, sweet husband also told me to buy something for myself (I haven’t gotten anything since way before my daughter was born in March, and then it was only a cute maternity shirt…everything else was borrowed), so I purchased a running necklace, and I will let myself wear it after I complete my very first 5K on Sept. 15th. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! As someone who has had to claw my way along when it comes to running, I know what a huge accomplishment it is to be able to run 1.5 miles without stopping!

      Do you have a link for the running necklace?? I’d love to see it as I love your idea of not being able to wear it until you’ve finished your race. And I might steal that idea from you! 🙂

  • Mrs. S says:

    Thank you so much for this series! I cannot thank you enough for making it apply to ALL of us, regardless of what our life situation and goals are. I am a full-time caregiver to my husband, so a lot of my progress is microscopic but so important! I am now getting my 5 “must-do’s” done at night and getting up early enough to have my coffee alone in the mornings before I start getting everyone else up. That tiny bit of self care for me has made such a huge difference in my day, making me a happier wife, momma and caregiver!

    • Crystal says:

      I’m so thankful to hear that you’re finding it applies to you in your situation, too. Thank you for your kind encouragement and that’s so wonderful to hear about the difference it’s making!

  • Jimi says:

    Bedtime: In bed before 10:00. I don’t know exactly what time because I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
    5 To Do’s – I’m doing okay at this. (Laying out clothes, getting my bags ready for work, lunch made, reviewing calendar and creating To Do list for the next day, washing face/brushing teeth). I’d like to start doing some of it earlier in the evening so that I have time to read before bed.
    Wake-up: Got up this morning at 6:10. I’m getting closer to that 6:00 goal.
    Exercise/Breakfast: Ran 16 minutes this morning and then enjoyed the steel cut oats I made in the crockpot overnight.
    Morning routine: Working on this. Right now, it looks like Exercise, Breakfast, Shower/Dress/Etc…go to work. I would love to add my quiet time in there and also start a load of laundry. Need to get up a little bit earlier to accomplish all that.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I am really enjoying this series!

    • Crystal says:

      Wow! You’re doing fantastic; I’m so inspired!

      • Jimi says:

        I have been so inspired by your series! Thank you. I started a full-time job in February and then had a very difficult spring/summer, so this came at the perfect time. I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with balancing work and home and actually being productive when I’m at home instead of just crashing. The timing of this series has been perfect. Thanks again!

        • Zoya says:

          Just a little tip on the laundry: if your washing machine is preprogrammable you can put in a load the night before and program it do that it has the load washed by the time u get up. So whe you are up you just switch it to the dryer and it will keep going!

  • Amanda says:

    Bedtime: 10:30…bed time is 9:30 :/ but my husband got home late and I usually wait for him to get home before I eat dinner and then we got to talking and then before I know it, it’s 10:30 and we were still up!

    My Top 5 Evening Must Do’s: Done!

    Wake Up Time: 5:30 a.m. that was pretty hard to do with out that extra hour of sleep! (although I suppose I better get used to less sleep before new baby gets here! lol)

    Exercise and breakfast: I did my yoga and had some cereal for breakfast.

    Morning Must Do’s: 1. devotions 2. spend time with husband 3. exercise 4. start the day’s laundry 5. Spend a little “me” time on facebook/email.

  • Really liking this series!

    I am doing really well on my 5 things in the evening. Bedtime is getting better which is making getting up earlier easier.

    I have so many things I would like to do in the morning before the kids get up but I am just not getting up early enough for all of them yet!
    Here’s plan for the first 2 hours of the day:
    1. Wake up at 6 and spend 30 minutes reading Bible/prayer
    2. wake up oldest and get her dressed, fed, and off to school by 7:30
    3. by this time by 2 youngest are most likely up as well so I get breakfast for them and eat some breakfast myself as well as get the kitchen cleaned up/dishwasher unloaded

    I would like to fit in some blog time and exercise but I’m not quite ready to get up at 4:30 or 5!

  • Carey says:

    Hi Crystal, I have been to thank you for this series…it came at the perfect time for me. Right before you started this series, I really felt I needed to start making changes somewhere, things were getting so disorganized and I felt lost on how to get it all back. I would wake up to the morning to a disorganized mess, and was feeling overwhelmed how to fix it. Your post on how you can’t have a good morning until you have a good nighttime routine really opened my eyes. I was going to bed with a dirty sink, piles of laundry, etc thinking “I’m too tired so I’ll tackle it in the morning”. Well morning came, then I had that morning’s dishes, then more clothes to deal with, etc. As you can guess, it was a vicious cycle. Anyway, your series came at a great time for me.

    Your article on the importance of establishing good night time routines really spoke to me in particular. I am really trying very hard to get my 5 must do’s done before bed. I am staying up a bit late getting it all done, but it has made a tremendous difference in my day and I LOVE coming down to a clean and organized kitchen, and empty washer/ dryer ready to go. Not to mention, now I can just push a button and my coffee machine is already set to brew in the morning …ahh 🙂

    I had a revelation this morning that I wanted to share….I have really been seeing that at night I am spending about 2 hours+ after the children go to bed cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, meal planning, etc. I absolutely love waking up to all of these things taken care of, BUT I feel it’s taking too much time. Plus, I think it’s important to connect with my husband at night so I spend time with him and then before I know it it’s midnight. My revelation is this “my night routine is not going to go smoother until my day goes smoother”. That means keeping the house in order has to be an “ALL DAY PROJECT”, that all the little decisions and undisciplined habits I have during the day just snow balls and at night I pay for it. So to tackle this, I am really trying to keep my house in order during the day by taking the extra minute and putting things back, cleaning up the lunch dishes right away, etc. Then my night time routine shouldn’t take quite as long, and I’ll still get some time in with my hubby. Anyway, that’s my plan and hoping tomorrow I have a good report on that!

    • Courtney says:

      I hope it works for you!

      I make sure the dishwasher is running as I go to bed. Then, one of my first chores is to unload it. That way I can work on filling it all day. It helps to keep it under control.

      I was having the same problem as you, but I’ve been working on organizing each room. I’ve found somethings were being stored in spots that weren’t where I used the item. Once I started that, a lot more has been put away after being used.

      Good luck!

  • Little Miss Night Owl/Insomnia Queen here has been up at 7 a.m. two out of the last three mornings!! Now, I need to close the computer earlier at night and see if it will help me sleep better.
    I am very tired, but trying to determine if a nap helps or hinders my sleeping at night. I am not really following the entire challenge, but sorta “feeling my way along”. I guess I’m a procrastinator…actually, I KNOW I am a procrastinator. LOL!
    Perhaps I will jump in whole hog…

    • Courtney says:

      I find the nap depends on when I take it. And I’m procrastinating along with you. Although, my Mr. Night Owl/Early Morning is my excuse. He has decided that he won’t go to bed until 9pm-10pm and he is up at 5am!

      We are going to try a walk at night to see if the fresh air helps him settle down for the night.

  • Carolen says:

    1. Went to a concert last night. Did not make my 9pm bedtime.
    2. Slept past 3:45am. Again due to concert. Way too embarassed to list what time I did get out of bed!
    3. Excercised missed this morning, due to my laziness of sleeping in. BUT, I want to run tonight instead. As for breakfast, does 2 cups of Java count?
    4. My Evening To-Do’s: not one got done. I really need to work on this. I am thinking it may be my list is irrelevant. Research to do on it.

    My Morning To-Dos:
    1. Meditate (10 min.)
    2. 20-30 minute run
    3. Shower and dress (15 min.)
    4. Wash/fold 1 basket of laundry (15 min.)
    5. Read a chapter from a book
    *This time only starts AFTER my honey leaves. Until then I enjoy my coffee and conversation with him.

  • Leslie says:

    Okay, better late than never. We just did an emergency 3 days in the hospital and getting things done at night was a Godsend! It made my crazy 4:30am starts much easier to handle with very little sleep and very little home time. I averaged 18 hours a day at the hospital with my Hubby. He did not want to be alone and was very, very ill. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in these daily projects, as they really do make a difference when you have to handle craziness. The routine becomes something to hold on to and center yourself around. Thank you again, it really pulled our family through a tough time with very little chaos!

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